PROVIDENCE — Shopping in this city could mean retail writ large at the Providence Place Mall or the East Side's Thayer Street.
For slower-paced, eclectic shopping, try the stores on South Main Street at the base of College Hill, across the river from the business district. Here are options from high-end men's clothing and a baby boutique to a cigar shop, where you could catch a seminar on global warming.
"It's got a great neighborhood feel, like an original Main Street," said Natalie Morello, who opened fashion and lifestyle boutique Shoppe Pioneer (No. 253, 401-274-7467, www.shoppepioneer.com) a year ago and heads the South Main Street Neighborhood Association. "It has that historic charm. It's where the East Side meets downtown."
Her shop specializes in SoHo-style women's clothing with nothing priced over $150, she said, which includes white jeans from Blank NYC, stripes from Bridge & Burn, and floral prints from Dylan & Rose.
For men, check out Marc Allen Fine Clothiers (No. 200, 401-453-0025, www.marcalleninc.com). You will drop some coin here — the average custom-made bespoke suit runs $2,700, and off-the-rack about $1,500 — but what you get will last a lifetime and set you apart from others, said owner Marc A. Streisand, who worked in New York for 20 years before coming here in 2009.
"It's an experience," Streisand said of his shop, where you can pick your material from bolts of cloth and get fitted by full-time tailors who manufacture the suits on site. "We do it the old-fashioned way, draw individual patterns, do basted fittings, the button holes are handmade."
The store carries head-to-toe clothing, from lush leather Santoni Italian shoes to hand-made ties to Robin Roterier cufflinks. One eye catcher is the Marc Allen deerskin jacket, reversible to cashmere, for $4,250.
"We bring in one-of-a-kind material from Italy that's not imported here, like Luciano Barbera," Streisand said. "Our client won't have on the same outfit as the guy sitting next to him at a business meeting."
Shopping for the tiny set means hitting Bambini Baby Boutique (No. 251, 401-490-6952), a small store packed with baby gear from the Petit Bateau and Persnickety clothing lines. The store also has an extensive collection of artwork, bedding, diaper bags, high chairs, toys, and fun stuff, like colorful children's hats.
One longstanding business is Hegeman & Co. (No. 361, 401-831-6812, www.hegemanand.com), a jewelry store featuring the work of select designers such as William Schraft, Bernd Wolf, BN Pink, and Charinsky. It also specializes in cultured pearls, specifically South Sea, Akoya, and freshwater pearls, with choices starting around $50, and on the higher end, gold and diamond bracelets from $1,000.
South Main's newest addition is Bin 312 Wine Cellar (No. 312, 401-714-0040, www.bin312.com), opened in September. Owner Tony Demers called it "the kind of place we'd want to shop in," with wine, spirits, and craft beer. It's laid out in a culinary way, he said, with wines for lighter food in front, heavier toward the back, and about 60 percent in the $8-$20 range. It's "tonight's wine section. It's affordable and good, the kind of wine you pick up on the way home for dinner," he said.
For cigars and cognitive exercises, check out SoMa Cigars (No. 341, 401-454-7662, www.somacigars.com), where you get smokes like Padron, Rocky Patel, Montecristo, and Joya de Nicaragua, and regular seminars on everything from counterfeiting of bank notes, to cigar manufacturing and quality metrics, to photodynamic therapy. Owner Nabil Lawan-dy said the seminars were an out-growth of his 17 years as a Brown University engineering and physics professor.
"I loved the many seminars and colloquia available on an academic campus, and being a cigar lover, always wished I could enjoy them together," said Lawandy, president of Solaris Nanosciences in Providence. "I took the opportunity to bring learning and the cigar experience together."
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.